I Just Lost an Election (and I Liked It)

I Just Lost an Election (and I Liked It)

Don Gavitte, airbrushed.

By Don Gavitte of Portland, Oregon. Don is a history, government & philosophy teacher at Grant High School. He is the founder of UPSET (Underfunded Parents, Students & Educators Together). This past May, he was a Democratic candidate for the House in District 42.

I just got politically crushed… no seriously, I got slaughtered in the primary.

Granted, it was my first venture into politics, but I wasn’t expecting to see “7%” next to my name last Tuesday night. I know, I know - I got out-spent 6 to 1 by not just one, but TWO candidates in the most expensive primary in Oregon history (I didn’t fact check that, but I don’t care anymore – its sounds about right).

If you have a minute let me tell you about my experience over the last seven months, it’s been quite a trip.

First, the good.

  1. The support when you least expect it. Like the day I saw a hand-made “No Soliciting” sign that also stated “Unless about public schools, kids, or vegan girl-scout cookies”. I left a note stating I’m “pro-cookie, vegan and otherwise”… a Facebook message that night informed me that the note produced a laugh and a vote. Of course, nothing is cooler than a random bike rider or jogger saying “Good Luck Don!” as you pass – except maybe when someone offers you a beer and a seat on their porch… the best possible setting to talk politics.

  2. My family getting into it. My wife (and treasurer) cursing at ORESTAR wondering where all my opponents’ money was coming from. “What the f**k is this PAC, and why did they give him $3500?!?” We ended up with a joke name for all the PACs we didn’t recognize, “The National Organization for Crushing Hopes and Dreams Under a Sheer Volume of Cash PAC” or simply “NOCHDUSVOC PAC.”

    My daughter going canvassing with me. She counted cats and recorded their moods. We had a pretty even split between “Hostile”, “Strange” and “Really Nice” cats… I never found out if they were registered Dems, but it was fun just the same.

    My son coming up with snarky, probably inappropriate, but otherwise hilarious nicknames for my opponents. A family that mocks together, stays together. No, I will not share.

  3. Money. Has anyone ever given you $50, $100 or $250 dollars just because they think you’re awesome? I have… and I didn’t even know some of these people. Too bad this doesn’t compare to NOCHDUSVOC PAC money that seems to come in 4 and 5 digit chunks. I needed some of that.

  4. Having your picture get airbrushed by the photographer. I like the way I look when computer enhanced.

The bad.

  1. Weird e-mails. No, I do not have a stance on glass-pack mufflers, that noisy bar next to your girlfriend’s house, nor do I share your fear of contrails and/or microwave ovens. However, here is a polite response that essentially says I do not know what you are talking about. P.S. – I’ll look into the bar, but I have to get elected first.

  2. Friends avoiding you at work because they think you’re going to ask them for money. The really sad thing is they were correct – I was about to ask them for money… ducking into the copy room was a good move.

  3. Fluoride. It’s still a big issue here in HD 42. Can’t be on the fence about this one – I wasn’t prepared.

The ugly.

  1. Dogs that bite. I got chomped on twice – and serious, “maybe I should get this checked out” type bites. You gotta watch out for the little ones – they can fly and go for the wrists. Can you say “sympathy vote”?

  2. “Almost endorsements.” They are a level of frustration I hope to never experience again:

Don is “a welcome addition to the election season, and consistently intrigued us with his policy suggestions. It’s a tough decision. And while we’d happily vote for Gavitte… it’s Nosse by a nose” - Willamette Week

Labor representative Rob Nosse stands out as the most qualified, followed closely by Portland Public Schools teacher Don Gavitte. - The Oregonian

Thanks for listening. Overall, I had a great time meeting my fellow Portlanders and I know I inspired at least one student to run a campaign of his own in the near future.

I wish Rob all the best in Salem. I will be in the gallery. I will be at his town halls. I will follow him around at New Seasons… wait, no that’s creepy, and stalking jokes are too easy in Oregon politics right now anyway.

But seriously, you’ll probably see me on the campaign trail again. Next time, maybe with an actual endorsement and that $3500 from NOCHDUSVOC … I can get more than 7%.

guest column

connect with blueoregon